Lewis River to Ridgefield Paddle April 2010

22 04 2010

The week before this paddle I noticed the forecast for Sunday was sunny! What better reason to schedule a paddle with Paddle NW, my Meetup group. The paddle from Paradise Point Park to Ridgefield is a nice transition from forested land and the East Fork of the Lewis River to the mighty Columbia River and then to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge.

I scheduled the paddle and quickly had a group of 11 paddlers. The day broke bright and promised to be pretty. We met up by I-5 exit 14 Ridgefield, set some cars at the take out and others headed one exit north to east fork of the Lewis River at Paradise Point State Park. Well, most. A couple of paddlers got momentarily lost, but they made it back. That was really important for my day because one of them was carrying my boat!

Paddling on the Lewis

We did some pre-paddle fun warm up exercises, then went through the trip and safety talk. The Lewis was at a nice level. It was nice to see my paddling buddies back out there on the water! We also had Katie and Christian along, great to see them!

The East Fork Lewis joined with the main Lewis. As you paddle over the confluence the depth drops significantly.

Further on, there is a decripit old railroad bridge – which is totally in use today! At one time, it could swing open to allow traffic to pass.

Olde Tyme

Today, the gears are totally stuck. It ain’t going nowhere.

Christian at the rusty bucket bridge

Near the confluence of the Lewis and Columbia, we found a beach and lunched. Bald eagles soared overhead, and fishermen passed by. From there, we could easily see the peak (well, blown off) of Mount St. Helens, and if you paddled out into the middle of the Lewis River, Mount Adams, too.

Kayaks on the beach

Then we paddled up past Gee Creek and up the slough toward Ridgefield, viewing the wildlife refuge as we passed.

In all, it was a terrific day on the water. Can’t think of a better way to spend 2010’s warmest day so far!

Lunch on the beach!

Bachelor Island Paddle in Ridgefield, WA

19 04 2010

In late March 2010 I decided to take my injured shoulder on a test paddle with the Oregon Ocean Paddling Society. FYI, my shoulder was dislocated about Thanksgiving 2009 by a wayward snowboarder at Mount Hood Ski Bowl. I’d done extensive physical therapy.

Andrew checking out a Great Blue Heron

The scheduled paddle was a 9-mile trip up and around Bachelor Island near Ridgefield, WA. When paddling in this area I usually put in at Ridgefield or at Paradise Point State Park, which is on the Lewis River. For some reason our trip leader opted to put in just north of the confluence of the Lewis River and Columbia – and that required 30 minutes additional driving.

Nonetheless the day’s weather was appealing and the company amenable. We paddled up the Columbia and into Ridgefield, then up the slough culminating on the south end of the island.

Upon arriving there, it was dead low tide. Not possible to paddle around, we did a quick portage, followed by lunch on a beach facing the Columbia River.

Lunch on Bachelor Island with Oregon Ocean Paddling Society!

Following lunch, we headed back north up the river. It wasn’t long after we launched I looked to my left and Neil Schulman was about 10 feet off to port! “Where did you come from?” I asked. He’d decided to get in a quick paddle after his girlfriend was too busy to come out. We paddled for a couple of miles before his route took him back to Ridgefield.

By now, I was a ways behind our group and pushed to catch up.

On the beach at Bachelor Island

I had to admit, by this time my poor shoulder was pretty peeved. I had over done it on my first paddle of any length since the accident. But I managed to catch up with the group, which was debating paddling up a small river called Gee Creek. Guidebooks say Gee Creek is interesting but can only be negotiated if the water level is just right. On this day, it didn’t matter what the water level was. Trees had come down over the creek, and it wasn’t possible to go more than a few yards beyond the entrance.

Overall, today’s paddle was a success. But I totally realized my limits, and that I needed to do some paddling specific exercises!

Onward and upward I say!